Jowhar, Somalia — Somali government troops backed by African Union (AU) forces, captured the city of Jowhar 90 KMs northwest of Mogadishu, after a brief clash with Al Shabaab fighters, Garowe Online reports.
The allied forces attacked the agriculture-rich district of Jowhar the administrative capital of Middle Shabelle region, which was an Al Shabaab stronghold.
AMISOM spokesman confirmed that on Sunday morning allied forces had a brief battle with the Al Shabaab fighters in Jowhar who later retreated from the city for "strategic reasons".
"This morning we captured the city of Jowhar after a brief battle, and we are now concentrating our efforts on tightening security in the city," said Col. Ali Adan Hamud.
The Commander of the AMISOM troops in Somalia Gen. Andrew Gutti stated that the capture was a big achievement for security in southern Somalia.
"Through this achievement we are now better able to maintain security in the Shabelle and Hiraan regions," said Gen. Gutti.
AU troops and Somali forces were sluggish in capturing Jowhar located on a main road, but now have a strategic city in their control which links southern and central regions in Somalia.
Al Shabaab spokesman who spoke to AFP, said that the terrorist organization would do everything in their power to recapture Jowhar.
Abdiaziz Abu Musab said that they would pursue the allied forces from "inside and outside Jowhar."
Al Shabaab has been deeply weakened by the allied forces offensive in southern Somalia, the terrorist organization may have been vacated from main cities but the Al Shabaab have reportedly fled to many remote villages in southern Somalia.
Jowhar during the Somalia Government led by Mohamed Siad Barre was one of the main agriculture industry cities in Somalia. Under socialist rule Jowhar's nationalized sugar plantations, cotton and banana industries made up a sizable portion of Somalia's exports.